Van Klaveren, M., Gregory, D., Johansen, A., Tengblad, P. & Schleicher, R. (2020). What about the Workers? Forty years of labour consultancy in Europe. Amsterdam/Oxford/Paris/Stockholm/Bochum: EESUN

Van Klaveren, M., Gregory, D., Johansen, A., Tengblad, P. & Schleicher, R. (2020). What about the Workers? Forty years of labour consultancy in Europe. Amsterdam/Oxford/Paris/Stockholm/Bochum: EESUN

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ABSTRACT

Written primarily from a workers’ perspective by five labour consultants and senior members of the EUROPEAN EMPLOYEE SUPPORT NETWORK (EESUN), ‘What about the Workers?’ provides a comprehensive overview of organisational change at the European workplace over the last forty years. The book offers a well-documented and statistically grounded account of the key elements that have driven such change. Notable here are the ways in which globalisation, privatisation and new management approaches have impacted upon industrial relations, employment and job quality. The authors also consider the effects of ageing and of major recent changes in the organisation of work such as the rise of the ‘gig economy’.

The authors draw upon their many years of experience as labour consultants to provide 45 case studies from the frontline of organisational change in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These cases offer illustrations on how employee representatives in manufacturing and private and public services have dealt with the local impacts of major economic, social and political shifts. In so doing, they provide practical guidelines to identify interventions that can help bring about sustainable and inclusive work organisations.

‘What about the Workers?’ is designed to be of practical use to all those who are, or might be involved in organisational change. To this end the authors have pulled together in a concluding chapter what they consider to be the vital elements of ‘good practice’ to be applied in the management of change.

A Postscript, written after the main body of the book was finished, considers the public call for a realignment of the pay, working conditions and employment status of essential workers that has arisen during the Coronavirus pandemic. To this end, the authors refer to WageIndicator data indicating that between 50 and 60% of workers in occupations labelled ‘key’ or ‘essential’ in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK had earnings in 2019 that were below the national average wage. The point is also made that the weakened systems of collective bargaining found in a range of European countries, may well undermine the achievement of significant uplifts in the pay and working conditions of many of these essential workers.


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